Petrified!

When I talk to people who have visited Holbrook (as opposed to residents), the number one reason they’ve come is to visit Petrified Forest National Park. Among the National Parks, Petrified Forest stands out as one of the…well, one of the oddest, to tell you the truth. Part of the Painted Desert is within the park, and the Painted Desert is colorful, stark, almost entirely devoid of plant life, and dry as a bone. Jeff made the definitive comment about the Park when he said, “You know, it isn’t really a pretty place, but it is exceptionally interesting.” That’s a good description.

So what do you know about petrified wood? One of the things I learned at the Park is that it’s found in every state in the USA. But no other collection comes close to what you see at Petrified Forest. According to the informative video provided at the park, the area around the park had once been moist and tropical, covered with plants and animals–dinosaurs, in fact. Streams and rivers abounded and huge trees grew on their banks.

In some unknown flood long ago, trees were swept from their banks and carried down the stream until they jammed in place and sank in the mud. After millenia, the cells within the trees exchanged their living tissue with chemicals from the surrounding water. When the area eventually became drier and drier, the petrified trees began to emerge from their muddy entombments. Some logs remained together despite their rocklike condition. Others broke into pieces.

Visitors today can drive through miles (literally) of park land littered with the remains of this tropical forest. Some of the pieces came from trees that were immature and small, but some are mind-bogglingly enormous. Should you be so inclined, you can polish petrified wood (but not wood found in the park–you would get into big trouble collecting there) into flat, colorful slices that mimic gemstones, prized by collectors.

In the heyday of Route 66, the Petrified Forest National Park drew many visitors and today, with I-40 offering easy access, it still does. It’s worth the visit. And you can stay with us when you come!

Speaking of Route 66, my next blog post will be a review of an excellent new inspirational fiction book called The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee.  Two of Jennifer’s characters in the book take a trip along the route of old Route 66 after some family difficulties–they even spend the night in Holbrook! I’ll tell you all about it next time but if you see it in the bookstore, grab a copy! You’ll love it. Then, on May 23, Jennifer will be on the blog with me for an interview.  Looking forward to it!

 

And just for fun, here’s a photo of daughter Liz, Jeff, and son Matt–taken at the Petrified Forest.

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